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8 November, 2023

Retaking the OAT

When faced with the daunting task of retaking the OAT, it can be difficult to narrow down where to start. Use these tips below to help you get a better OAT score.
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So, you didn’t do as well as you hoped you would on the OAT and now it’s time to retake the test. It is okay to feel disappointed. You were hoping you would not be in this situation. However, this is not the end of the world! As someone who has written the OAT twice, it can be a daunting process to have to go through it all over again. Below are a few tips I thought I’d share that helped me and hopefully, can help you achieve better scores on your next attempt.

🤔 Reflect

Before you dive back into studying, it is important that you take the time to reflect on your first attempt. Take the time to analyze what worked well for you and what did not. This will allow you to find ways to improve and avoid making the same mistakes again. Some tips are: doing more content review, more practice questions, trying new study methods or dedicating more time to studying. Don’t be afraid to change things up as you study. You want to find what works best for you and optimize your study time.

🔎 Don't Skim Over the Material

As much as you would like to believe you already know the material, it’s surprising how much you forget from the last time. Therefore, it is important that you go through ALL the material thoroughly as if it is your first time. Prioritize the sections you did not do well in. Something that I found helpful was studying the subjects I scored the lowest in first.

🧠 The Right Mindset

The process of retaking the OAT can be daunting, accompanied by many other negative feelings. It is important that you try to keep a positive mindset and refrain from being your own worst enemy. Take this as an opportunity to prove yourself, show that you are not giving up and are able to pick yourself back up during times of adversity. Always remember your “why?” and keep the end goal in mind. Something important to keep in mind is that you have already written the test once. You now know what to expect and therefore you are very well equipped to prepare accordingly. You know you were good enough to write it once, you can definitely write it twice. Take this as a huge advantage when studying rather than a setback.

✏️ Practice Makes Perfect

Something I learned during my experience is that as important as it is to study the material, it is more important that you go through practice questions and tests.  If it helps, you can find a list of free OAT practice tests by clicking here. No matter how much time you spend studying, the concepts will not be reinforced unless you do practice questions. This was one of the mistakes I made when studying for the OAT for the first time. During my second attempt, I found that doing a lot more practice questions allowed me to learn from my mistakes, reinforced the material and made me feel more confident. Moreover, do not feel like you must finish going through all the material before starting to do practice questions. Doing practice while studying could be a great way to find out which areas require more attention and can allow you to adjust your study schedule accordingly. Another tip to keep in mind when practicing is always to simulate testing conditions; this will give you the best feel for the test.

💤 Take Breaks

Studying 24/7 will inevitably lead to burning out and you do not want that. Therefore, it is important that you incorporate breaks into your study schedule. Whether it be a day off each week or a few breaks throughout the day, both are important to maintain a balanced schedule. Something I did differently during my second attempt was that I made sure to allocate one day off each week where I allowed myself to relax and go out to spend time with my family and friends. This allowed me to take my mind off the test, blow off some steam and allowed me to be more productive and motivated during my study periods.

I hope that these tips will help you conquer your next attempt at the OAT. Just remember that you are not alone. I know it may feel discouraging at this moment, however, take it from a current Optometry student who has been in your shoes. It is possible to achieve your desired scores with the proper resources, preparation, and mindset.